September 20, 2017

things I could be (someday)...

things I could be (someday) |
Several years ago, a family friend of my husband's stopped by our place for a quick visit while he was in town. He was a bit younger than Jay—early twenties, if I remember correctly, and busy coming up with plans for the future. At some point in the conversation, he asked me what I do, and I answered in typical fashion.

"Oh, I'm just doing the mom-thing right now."

This question always makes me feel slightly awkward because it's hard to know how to answer without downplaying the legitimacy of being "just" a mom and not also having a career. I always feel this rush to justify my choice or casually try to throw in how, yes, I actually feel quite fulfilled by my choice. But there's really no way to keep this conversation going with most people after I admit to not also having some sort of career. The question and interest stops—which I fully understand makes sense, because there isn't really a question as to what fills my days and what the role of full-time mom looks like for most women.

In reality, rarely is the person passing any sort of judgement or assuming I should want to be doing something more, but I always feel that expectation in the back of my mind during these conversations.

During this specific conversation, though, I was surprised to be asked something else. After I told him about doing the mom-thing, he hardly paused before asking something to the effect of, "What do you think you want to do after?" I remember how much that caught me off guard. First, I was rather shocked (and impressed) that a twenty-something male was interested in the hopes and dreams of a stay at home mom he had just met. Second, I honestly couldn't remember ever having been asked that question before, or even really thinking about it. As I assume it is with many women in the trenches of motherhood, at that time it was hard to look beyond the next five years or so and think about what the years ahead would hold beyond the diaper stage and the broken sleep I was still getting every night...let alone when the kids are grown and off on their own.

He went on to say how it has been pretty amazing to see the things his mom went on to do after first choosing staying home with him and his brother during their childhood and school years. He said she now works in the travel industry, is always on the move and is pretty much traveling the world now. He took the time to say how great it was that she chose to invest herself fully in them during her stay-at-home years, but also how great it was to see her do all these unexpected things during this new season of her life.

For years, this conversation has been replaying in my head. I doubt he or my husband even have any recollection of this relatively tiny snippet of small-talk, but it really left a lasting impression. Most of all, it was reassuring to me as a woman drowning in a culture that holds so much weight in the idea of doing it all. And not just doing it all, but doing it all now. There is no compartmentalizing any part of your life—it's about accomplishing as many of your aspirations as possible, all at once. I personally feel like the overall sentiment is something to the effect of: If you aren't working toward your dream right now, then what's the point of having your dream at all? Personal and professional aspirations seem to always edge out the less glamorous parts of life (most notably, motherhood—surely the least glamorous thing most of us will ever do in our lives, yet, dare I say, one of the most important).

I'm not in a rush to speed through to the years of early motherhood and beyond, just to get to the point where I'm free to pursue other ventures. I don't feel like making this very personal choice has somehow hindered me as an individual, and I hold the (unpopular) opinion that losing myself a little in my role as mother and within my service to my family has been a good thing for me. To put it simply, motherhood has humbled me in a way that keeps me grounded, centered, tethered to something more than my own fleeting, selfish thoughts and emotions.

But I do sometimes think about the possibilities that are out there. When the kids are grown and I'm no longer dedicating the majority of my daily hours to raising and teaching my children. What then? Is there something I will want to do? Something I haven't done before?

By nature, I am not a busybody. I don't like having a full social calendar, and I hate when there is little blank space within the span of a day. But I do like feeling accomplished, and knowing I'm doing something that matters every single day. (Even if at this point in life that sometimes looks like shopping for groceries, dusting the staircase and reading aloud to my daughters.) I wonder how I will fulfill that need once it's just my husband and I, and the kids are grown and off to pursue their own adventures beyond the walls of our home.

When this last baby turns 18, I'll be in my early 50s. I remember the days when 50 sounded ancient, and now I can't help but realize just how young that is.

Maybe I will go back to school and study nursing. I never would have considered this in my younger years, but something about growing older and experiencing motherhood has made me much less woozy and bothered by things a nurse may possibly face on a day-to-day basis. I am compassionate, I am passionate about learning, I love the idea of helping people. I could honestly see myself pursuing this and absolutely loving it.

Maybe I will write. Maybe I will write a book, or some sort of curriculum (should we continue homeschooling and I have many years of teaching under my belt), or share my heart in some other way. I've always wanted to write a book of essays about my life that I would publish myself and give as a gift to my children.

Maybe I will travel and do missions work through our church. I never had the opportunity to do any sort of missions as a child or teenager, and it's something I've always, always wanted to do. I can't imagine leaving Jay for long periods of time, but I'd love to periodically take time to travel and meet people who live in a reality much different than my own and (above all) share the gospel with those who may never hear it otherwise.

Maybe I will study and learn a new art. I could paint, learn more about photography, or try something I've never even considered doing before.

When it comes down to it, it's not as though all these things have to wait until I'm an empty nester, and I realize there are steps I can take toward many of these aspirations long before the day I have more time than I know what to do with. But I don't feel this rushed desire to consistently be checking things off a to-do list in order to reach these goals as soon as possible. I know the time will come when pursuing something beyond my regular day-to-day won't stress me out or feel like some sort of unnecessary pressure. Sometimes, just the realization that there will be more time for these things someday is enough.

My thirties have already been filled with so many good things...I can only imagine what my forties will hold. If anything, one thing I've become sure of within the last few years is that doing what I do now is enough. It's not always about rushing forward to the next step, the next big thing, the next great accomplishment. Being satisfied with a simple life doesn't make me unambitious, apathetic or boring. For me, it means being content. It means I can focus squarely on what is right in front of marriage, my children, my faith, my home. And finding contentment within these average, everyday things means I won't feel that they are taking me away from something else I hope to accomplish in life.

After all, there is time. Not everything I dream of doing must be accomplished within a five year plan. There will surely be time for it all someday.

— Further reading: where we belong

September 16, 2017

inside my Ipsy bag: September 2017...

Ipsy bag: September 2017 |
I'm basically head-over-heels for this $10, monthly subscription bag. I started receiving Ipsy bags about six months ago, after I found out that pretty much every one of my sisters had been subscribed for a while and loved it. I thought I'd try it out, not planning on continuing my subscription very long—mostly because I'm not fancy with my makeup routine and it's never been a priority to use name-brand products. Still, the $10 price tag was tempting, and because I do love trying new products, I thought I'd try it out and see what I thought.

Six months in, I can't quit because this drugstore gal has now found a new way to get quality makeup on the cheap. Each bag has five items that are customized to your preferences (often full-size) and there hasn't been one bag I've been disappointed with. (See later on in my post for a handful of items I received that I continue use every single day.)
Ipsy bag: September 2017 |
I figured that it would be fun to start reviewing my bags here—mostly because I have been receiving them long enough now that I feel confident recommending them to pretty much anyone. Even as thrifty as I am, these bags have replaced any makeup purchases I used to make, and at $10 a month, even I say it's totally worth it. (Based on their marketing materials featuring 20-somethings with blue eyebrows, black eyeshadow and sparkly lipstick, I am so not their demographic, yet I've absolutely loved every bag I've received. Perhaps I should lead their marketing campaign for 30-something homeschool moms who typically buy their makeup using coupons at CVS. HIT ME UP, IPSY.)

Ipsy bag: September 2017 |
The bag this month is one I think is one I will actually keep in my purse and not simply donate to my daughter. Many of the bags my products have arrived in end up being something I give to Eisley to keep her Shopkins or collection of hair clips in. But this one is beautiful! I think I shall keep it for myself. (Sorry, Eisley.)

See below for the goodness I received this month:

Ipsy bag: September 2017 |
Smashbox Photo Finish Radiance Primer — This is something I will never use, but it seems there is always one product in my bag that it out of my makeup repertoire. (I typically keep these things in a box to send to my younger sisters, who know a heck of a lot more about makeup than I do.)

GELlusion polish in Virgo — I initially did not like this color at all, but was thrilled to try out some new nail polish. I've never used any sort of gel-effect polish, and this brand is absolutely fantastic. After two coats, it ended up darker than it looks in the bottle and is officially my new favorite. I'd post a photo of it on my toes, but the internet is weird and creeps be creepin', so you'll just have to trust me on this one.

SKINFOOD Black Sugar Mask — Who can say no to a mask? Not I. Used it, loved it, felt totally pampered.

Ciate London Wonderland Mascara — I've received a bunch of mascaras in my bags, which is so much fun for me because I almost never try new ones. This one isn't my favorite (mostly because I like my mascara to be a little thicker on my lashes after two coats) but for days I want to wear just a touch of makeup, it'll be perfect.

Dirty Little Secret Lip Gloss in Nude Beach — This is hands down my favorite product of the month. It's basically the lipgloss of my dreams. Shiny, lightweight, just a small touch of color. Oh, and the folks at Ipsy mentioned how it smells like kettle corn and oh, my gosh, it totally does. I literally wear it every day.

current Ipsy favorites |
As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I continue to use nearly all the products I've received over the last six months. I thought I'd share a (literal) handful of the products I now use on a daily basis that have replaced the dusty, old makeup that had been taking up space in my makeup bag for years. (There are so many more products I still use that aren't included in this list, but to keep it short I figured I'd just stick to the dailies!)

theBALM Balm Springs Blush — This is the perfect blush for a fair gal like myself.

Makeup For Ever Excessive Lash Mascara — As I mentioned, I've received several mascaras in these bags, but this remains a favorite. Small brush, perfect application, good-eyelash-day guaranteed.

Ciate London Wonderland Gel-Kohl Liner — I've received several different eyeliners, but this one is my favorite of the bunch.

Paula Dorf Cosmetics Universal Brow Pencil — One thing these Ipsy bags have started me on is actually doing my brows. I had no idea I could use a brow pencil without looking like I have drawn-on eyebrows, but this one works like magic!

treStiQue Mini Concealer Crayon — This is my new go-to cover up that I use under my eyes and on any blemishes. Works like a charm.

Luxie Beauty Dreamcatcher Precision Foundation Brush — I break the rules and use this to apply bronzer. Don't tell the makeup police.

Glamour Dolls Lisa Frank Blush Brush — Childhood throwback! I use this to apply blush daily.

If you're interested in signing up to receive your own Ipsy bags, feel free to use my referral link! You can cancel any time and aren't required to pay for anything beyond a month-to-month subscription. (For the record: I pay for each of these bags myself, and the only kickback I get if you use my link are points on my account that I can redeem for extra beauty products.) If you do end up signing up, please let me know what you think of what you receive! Because everyone receives a bag based on their own preferences, there are so many different products available each month and I love to find out what other people end up getting.

— Further reading: four drugstore makeup favorites

Affiliate links included in this post; view my disclosure policy here. Thank you for your support!

September 15, 2017

mothering, mornings and me time...

Earlier this week, I had a day that was just rough. It seemed that all my eldest wanted to do was whine, complain and be generally sassy in her response to basically everything that was happening in life. Age six is mostly delightful, but this part is difficult. She's old enough to generally control her responses in a way that doesn't make me want to lash out irrationally, but still young enough that human nature often gets in the way. I ended up cancelling our big plans for the day, which she had been eagerly anticipating. Consequences are tough business, but at a certain point I'm left with nothing else to do. I can't tiptoe around a dreadful attitude for hours upon end, then drive off to the beach all afternoon for what will most likely feel like a reward to her.

She was definitely upset, as was I, and I was sure to give her plenty of time to level herself out while I sobbed quietly into a pile of laundry, cursing my pregnancy hormones and the moments in life when I envy parents who have time away from their kids during the week.

When people discover we homeschool, often one of the first things they will say is how they could never do it because they aren't patient enough. Well, folks: I am not perfectly patient. I am not Mary Poppins, nor do I bear any resemblance to an eerily calm and cheerful elementary school teacher with a musical voice, constant smile and brightly colored cardigans. I do not get along perfectly with my first-grader. She and I are both extremely similar and markedly different—depending on what we are dealing with at any given moment. And although I do feel that having so much time with my children—focusing on relationships, family culture and such—is one of the reasons I can't imagine not homeschooling at this time, it doesn't mean that it's easy. There are times it is definitely difficult to never have a break. My husband travels a fair amount for work, and neither my parents nor Jay's are local. There isn't much I ever do that doesn't involve one or both children.

I don't resent my role, and I take my vocation as mom and teacher very seriously. I see it as a calling and a huge blessing to me. But does that make it easy? No. No, it does not. And sometimes it just feels good to admit that.

One thing I've been doing lately is waking up ridiculously early. It's like some form of pregnancy insomnia, but if anything wakes me up after 5AM, I'm unable to go back to sleep. I've decided to just embrace it, and typically lay there in bed for a few minutes, feeling baby kicks and praying a bit for the day ahead. And once I actually have my feet on the floor (and tiptoe like a borderline criminal down the staircase, in an effort to not make any noise that would wake my early-risers) I've found that I'm actually quite content to be awake before the sun.

Typically, I get myself a cup of coffee, then set about preparing a few things for the day. I look over our plans for school and organize everything for Morning Time (books we will be reading, mark off passages for Eisley to read aloud, gather printables she will be completing, etc.). I review her math and language arts lessons for the day, which we do online. I actually love the feeling of having all this ready before Eisley wanders downstairs and gives me her daily breakfast request. (Lately, it has been an egg on toast cut into bites, please and thank you.)

When I'm done preparing for the day, then any time left becomes me time. Ah, yes, the elusive me time. I will sit down at the kitchen table with my coffee, listening intently for the tiny footsteps upstairs that almost always become noticeable within ten minutes of my opening the laptop. But sometimes, like this morning, I get lucky. I'm able to take a look at my email, try a few surveys online (yes, I still do this to bring in a bit of extra money), browse Pinterest to pin projects and worksheets for my daughter to complete for school, and work on posts for the blog.

The only way I'm able to write consistently again is thanks to these mornings. I feel like I wake up with so much more inspiration than I have any other time of day. Even while the girls are resting in the afternoon and I have 1-2 hours to myself, that is almost never me time. I take care of phone calls and cleaning and other less appealing activities (mostly ones that are difficult to accomplish with kids running around or begging for another cup of goldfish crackers). I can't even talk to you about evenings, because even on the best night I'm basically a zombie on the couch after the kids are in bed at 8PM. I've completely given up on accomplishing anything after that point, except for reading a book or scrolling on my phone.

So, mornings it is. I enjoy a bit of silence, a bit of coffee, a bit of writing. I have never considered myself a morning person—and honestly, I still wouldn't consider myself one. But out of necessity, here I am, awake and kind of liking it. Appreciating it, because even when it is just twenty minutes of coffee and email, it helps me feel a bit more prepared and a bit more centered before the "real" day begins.

Further reading: crazy and peaceful